Land-cover change in eastern lowland Bolivia was documented using Landsat images from five epochs for all landscapes situated below the montane tree line at approximately 3000 m, including humid forest, inundated forest, seasonally dry forest, and cloud forest, as well as scrublands and grasslands. Deforestation in eastern Bolivia in 2004 covered 45 411 km2, representing ∼9% of the original forest cover, with an additional conversion of 9042 km2 of scrub and savanna habitats representing 17% of total historical land-cover change. Annual rates of land-cover change increased from ∼400 km2 y−1 in the 1960s to ∼2900 km2 y−1 in the last epoch spanning 2001 to 2004. This study provides Bolivia with a spatially explicit information resource to monitor future land-cover change, a prerequisite for proposed mechanisms to compensate countries for reducing carbon emissions as a result of deforestation. A comparison of the most recent epoch with previous periods shows that policies enacted in the late 1990s to promote forest conservation had no observable impact on reducing deforestation and that deforestation actually increased in some protected areas. The rate of land-cover change continues to increase linearly nationwide, but is growing faster in the Santa Cruz department because of the expansion of mechanized agriculture and cattle farms.
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